MIYAZAKI -- A prefectural education board in southwest Japan has decided to supply women's sanitary products at all 52 prefectural school bathrooms for any girls to take free of charge starting in early December, as part of a nationwide movement to respond to "period poverty," in which women can't afford pads or tampons.
The Miyazaki Prefectural Board of Education tested the free sanitary product initiative for six weeks from late August this year at a total of seven junior high, senior high and special needs schools, and conducted a survey. In all, 512 students, or about 30% of female students at the schools responded to the survey, and of those, 156, or 30.5%, used the free sanitary products.
When asked whether they were struggling or had struggled to buy or obtain period products in a multiple-answer question, a total of 52 people, or 10%, said they had difficulties "sometimes" or "every time." Asked where they would want the free products to be stocked, 453, or 73%, picked "bathroom stalls."
Based on the survey, the education board decided on girls' bathroom stalls for the spot for stocking period products. The cost will be covered by each school's general operating budget used to buy toilet paper and other necessities.
Yumi Toyama, a director at the nonprofit Miyazaki gender equality promotion organization, which is involved in collecting unused sanitary products in a donation box at the Miyazaki prefectural gender equality center and handing them out for free, said society is shifting in a better direction. She added, "Now that the prefectural government has taken action, we expect a ripple effect spreading to municipal elementary and junior high schools. I hope people will soon gain access (to sanitary products) like they have with toilet paper."
(Japanese original by Kenta Somatani, Miyazaki Bureau)